Sunday, May 20, 2007

JAGS IN THE WIND

Over on Truthout there’s an AP report that a Navy lawyer has gotten six months imprisonment (www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051907C.shtml). Thoughts are prompted.

The lawyer got the sentence after a court-martial; no surprises there. Concluding a six-month tour of duty at Guantanamo as a ‘legal adviser’ (whatever that might be in the circumstances obtaining down there), he had sent an anonymous note to a civil liberties group with the names of the 500 detainees.

Age 41, he was a Lieutenant-Commander. He was no newbie. So it’s getting bad enough that even guys around for the long haul in the JAG corps are starting to waver. In a mob Family, when guys already ‘made’ start to crack, the bosses gotta give things some serious thought.

He was on a six-month tour. That’s kinda short. You can’t hardly get anything done in such a brief tour: can’t get to know how things go, know the command and the commander, establish the informal web of connections that enable you to do your job efficiently. You hardly get unpacked and you’re getting packed again. Very inefficient. Maybe that’s how the Navy wants it, when it comes to ‘legal advisers’: that way, nobody’s to blame: the Navy and the individual’s conscience can be protected: s/he was new, wasn’t here long enough to get a handle on things … leaving open all the usual ploys like ‘it was an oversight’, it couldn’t be helped, it’s so tough down there with those awful terrorists that even hardened JAGs have to be rotated out quickly so send us more money and authority to torture. That sort of thing.

He was “eligible” for 14 years. He got six months. Maybe even juries of Navy officers are starting to get squeamish and are doing the right thing. Maybe. The charge was to the effect that what he did could be used to injure the United States … just a short climb down from treason. They gave him six months?

But perhaps it’s because he made all the right noises at the court-martial: It was “cowardly” to release the names in that manner, he ‘admitted’. Yah. But torturing people you’ve snuck up on and kidnapped is not at all cowardly. Amazingly, he was allowed to speak to the press: he had an interview with the ‘Dallas Morning News’, but maybe that’s not the one in the middle of Fundy, gummint-worshipping, patrioteering Texas … maybe it’s some other ‘Dallas Morning News’ that the Navy marvelously allowed him to speak to.

So he makes all the noises an Old Bolshevik would have made at his show-trial in 1938. But it's true: America is still better than Stalin's Russia: old Joe would have had him shot anyway; Attorney Diaz just got 6-months (and it isn't a felony unless you get a year, so his Bar license is safe too). Funny - you can do stuff that will "injure the United States" but it's only a misdemeanor. So kinder and gentler, our Navy - and so un-cowardly. Yah.

Not that the names weren’t up for grabs. The Supreme Court – marvelously – had ruled in favor of the Center for Constitutional Rights that the suspects had the right to challenge their detention, but the Pentagoons then refused to release the names of the detainees. But that wasn’t cowardly. Zey verr chust followink orders. Ja.

But if Mr. Justice Thomas parties with torture-whores, and Mr. Justice Scalia’s only defense of the Court’s Bush-enthronement Opinion of 2000 is that we should all ‘just get over it’ and fuhgeddaboutit, then We are going to have a job of work trying to hold the Navy accountable. But We have to start somewhere.

God, as the Fundamentalists brethren and sistern are wont to point out, is coming soon. And He’s got a little list.

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